Having a bad day? Everyone does. And frankly, life would be boring if it were stress-free. Still, it’s a good idea to have some easy and effective strategies to turn a bad day into a good day when you’re feeling like you just aren’t going to make it.
Here are 10 things I do to fix my brain when I’m having an off day:
1) Take a bath
When I’m really feeling down, I take a bath. I fill the tub with hot water and throw in some Epsom salts, light some incense, and put on some relaxing tunes. Truthfully, this is probably the last thing I try, because it really relaxes me. And I mean, really relaxes me. After a good bath it’s normally time for bed.
2) Go for a walk (outdoors)
Exercise is a great way to improve your mood. Everyone knows that. But for people like myself who can be a bit high strung and anxious at times, a hard workout that spikes my heart rate might not help calm me down. In cases like these a walk is perfect! I queue some good podcasts and walk around the concession (anywhere from 5 and 12km). It’s a great way to clear my head and work out anxiety.
In addition to being great exercise, the sun and fresh air will have a great, healing impact on your mood. If you work in an office setting, use something like BreakTime to notify you ever couple of hours that it’s time to stand up, and walk around the block. You might be surprised how refreshed you feel when you get back to work.
3) Listen to a favourite song
One of my all time favourite upbeat songs is Make a New Dance Up by Hey Ocean!. It makes me sing. It makes me dance. My mood totally shifts when I listen to it, no matter what state of mind I’m in. Have a listen for yourself and see if it doesn’t make you want to shake.
4) Have a good meal
When I say good, I mean healthy. Many people eat comfort foods like salty treats when they’re feeling down or anxious. I have myself, but the truth is those foods tend to leave us feeling bloated and tired. That’s not a good way to feel when you’re trying to turn your day around.
I’m not saying you have to eat a carrot (although that would be a good choice), but some tuna or chicken on leafy greens or a hot bowl of oatmeal with some banana would be great choices. Each time I eat a good, healthy meal I feel like I’m starting anew.
5) Take a nap
I love naps. If you’ve listened to my podcast or ever talked to me around 2 in the afternoon, you know I like naps. Having a little lay-down mid-afternoon really helps me feel alert later in the day. Sometimes when I’m feeling particularly stressed I’ll feel like totally shutting down and sleeping for 10 years. But a quick, 20 minute nap can quickly turn that around.
6) Clean up
When my desk is cluttered or I have unfolded laundry my entire life can feel scattered. I might find myself procrastinating by making my bed, tidying up my laundry, and clearing and organizing my office. The truth is that by cleaning up my physical space I’m (somehow) simultaneously making more brainspace so that I can deal with work and life more productively.
If you’re feeling totally overwhelmed and there’s stacks of files piled a mile high on your desk, take 10 to 20 minutes to tidy them up and organize them. You might find while you’re making your workspace more functional that you’re also finding outstanding tasks which need to be dealt with.
7) Hug someone
There’s all sorts of research on how physical touch like hugging can release oxytocin in your body, which will make you feel all warm and fuzzy. I’ve also read compelling evidence that tightly squeezing children with autism and anyone with anxiety can diminish episodes of panic. These are all great reasons why you should snag a great big hug when you’re feeling overwhelmed. But moreso, hugs feel amazing! So hug more!
8) Dress up
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Sophia, you’re pretty much the least fashionable person ever! You wear sweatpants, like, 80% of the time!” And you are correct. But darn, if dressing up doesn’t make me feel put together! Sometimes I’ll have an appointment but really not feel like leaving the house. When I do my hair and makeup and force myself into an outfit that makes me feel like a million bucks, suddenly I feel more alert. Those meetings tend to be some of my best. When you’re feeling low, try putting a little more effort into your hair and choosing the right outfit, and stand up tall. I bet you’ll feel a little bit better.
9) Wear sweatpants
“Are you kidding, Sophia?? You just said–“ No! I’m not kidding. Sometimes we just need to kick back and relax. My family jokes that it takes me all of 5 minutes to change into my sweats when I get home. (Which, for the record, is true.) If you ever find yourself going a mile a minute for days on end, throw on some sweats and sit in front of the TV with some of your new healthy comfort food. Running yourself into the ground won’t make you feel great, so be sure to maximize on what downtown you do have.
10) Do something nice for someone else
Have you ever paid for someone else’s coffee just for fun? Congratulations, you’re a great person! It feels awesome, doesn’t it? It might not be truly altruistic (you know, because you’re doing it to make yourself feel good), but random acts of kindness can really restore faith in yourself.
Try it out! Especially when others are making you feel down, do a little something nice for someone else and see how you feel. It can be as easy as telling someone on the street, “Hey! I like your top!”
There you have it! These are my 10 favourite ways to turn a bad day good. Try each one on for size on their own or mix them up. For example, going for a long walk followed by a refreshing meal and an Epsom salts bath might be the perfect way to spend a relaxing Sunday. And remember your sweatpants.
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